Opposition Leader must be appointed by Parliament - Luncheon

Guyana Chronicle
December 29, 2002

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CABINET Secretary and Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon has expressed the hope that the succession transition within the Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) would flow smoothly so that the politicians could continue their goal of nation-building.

Since the sudden death of PNC/R leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte last Sunday, the party’s chairman, attorney-at-law, Mr. Robert Corbin, has taken the helm. Corbin will be the party’s leader until the General Council is called, within 60 days, at which time an Interim Leader will be elected to lead the party until the next Congress.

In the interim, the position of Leader of the Opposition is vacant. Responding to concerns about the vacant position at a press conference called after a special cabinet session Friday, Dr. Luncheon said the Opposition Leader’s appointment is a parliamentary one.

An Amendment of the Guyana Constitution provides for the Leader of the Opposition to be elected by and among the non-governmental members of the National Assembly. The Speaker of the National Assembly chairs that meeting of non-governmental (opposition) members. The Speaker does not have voting rights at that meeting.

A leader of the PNC/R must first be elected. The other opposition parties in Parliament are the Guyana Action Party/Working People’s Alliance (GAP/WPA), Rise Organise And Rebuild (ROAR) and The United Force (TUF). TUF’s seat is currently held by Minister of Trade, Tourism and Industry, Mr. Manzoor Nadir.

“I am not quite clear and familiar with the rules and regulations that are invoked with the appointment of the leader of the PNC, but I suppose some reasonable gathering of members and other functionaries (will) do the self same activity - the election of a leader,” Dr Luncheon said.

Asked about the effect Hoyte’s passing has had on the Dialogue Process and interactions with the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration in general, Dr. Luncheon referred to the question as a “theoretical” one since “there wasn’t a dialogue anyhow, of late”.

“There wasn’t much of a general interaction either,” he added, “but I think this is a necessary conjecture - one hopes and I suspect that there is some basis for Guyanese and the body politic hoping that the transition does not … introduce variables or additional distractions or difficulties that would prevent the body politic from coalescing and addressing our concerns. It has always been the stated position of all the participants in the political arena: we have all vowed to do our best for Guyana, so my anticipation is that the change, the transition, ought not to be an obstacle of any sort in us moving and working to fulfill our stated objectives.”

“Usually the issue of succession generates some level of uncertainty and that’s why we’re hoping that this matter is dealt with comprehensively, conclusively and non-acrimoniously …There’s always been the tendency for uncertainty to surface at the time of political succession,” Luncheon noted.

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